We love our four-legged pals to pieces, crave time with them, feel terrible when we’re apart. Thank heaven (for little girl and boy animals) that a growing crop of innovators is working in the pet-tronics and pet-care space, helping to reassure us that Fifi and Fido are doing well even when we’re many miles from home.
Smile for the camera. Surveys suggest that “checking in on the pets” is a core reason for purchase and use of web-connected home-security cameras. Most video snoopsters also have a built-in speaker, so app-linked viewers can remotely coo words of comfort or bellow, “Get off the couch!”
Even better, I’ve found, are specialty video cameras that also distribute treats, such as the Furbo Pet Cam, the Petzi TreatCam, and the Feed and Go Smart Pet Feeder.
▪ Furbo ($119 at www.furbo.co) has the sleekest design and an easily popped-off lid for dropping in refills of your dog or cat’s favorite yummies. Furbo’s Barking Alerts feature pushes a message to your smartphone when your high-strung pal is complaining, encouraging a quick response in your most calming voice.
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▪ The Petzi ($151.37 at Walmart.com) has the Pavlovian response mechanism down pat. Remotely wake up Petzi through your phone or tablet app and a yellow light glows next to its lens, telling whomever, “You’re on Candid Camera.” Other app-taps remotely cue Petzi’s pleasant musical-jingle alert, capture, and then send your voiced communications and — most important — pump out a handful of dog or cat treats (better crunchy than soft, no longer than one inch).Petzi’s secure holding tank won’t spill stuff if your smart guy knocks the box over.
▪ The Feed and Go ($249 at Amazon.com) sits apart by serving full meals, with six rotating compartments that each hold up to 8 ounces of dry or (if you dare) wet food. An SMS or email message is pushed when the feeding starts. And you’ll get a warning if there’s a system failure.
▪ Coming soon, the Gosh easyFeed will increase the options with portioned food and water refilling, too. Due in November, it’s now a $155 early-bird special on Kickstarter.
▪ No pictures, just treats. Too far removed or lacking the gear to connect remotely with your pooch? CleverPet serves as a surrogate babysitter, engaging your pal with paw-at-the-blinking-lights games that reward pattern recognition with treats. Get a demo and make an order ($299) at www.clever.pet.
▪ Exercise this. WonderWoof is a cute, connected Bluetooth bow tie that attaches to your dog’s collar, then reports (to an app) if your pal is doing enough running, sleeping, playing, and walking. $95 at www.wonderwoof.com.
▪ For dogs that like to play “fetch” longer than you do, there’s PetSafe’s Playtime Anytime Automatic Ball Launcher. A tennis ball shoots out, adjusted to fly between eight and 30 feet away. Poochie hustles after the ball, doubles back, drops it into the device’s top hole, and then … boom! … the ball launches again. A rest feature guarantees a cool-down every 15 minutes. A Launcher costs $149.95 at www.petsafe.net.
▪ Plush accommodations. Spend half your day cleaning animal fur off the furniture? EnchantedHomePet.com offers an amazingly diverse and pretty line of pet sofas/beds. Sized for either small pups or big bruisers, these snooze spots feature washable plush or pleather upholstery and storage for toys and bones, priced from $89.99 to $599.99. Also available online from Amazon, Wayfair, Target, Kohl’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, dog.com, and petco.com.
▪ EnchantedHomePet’s Pet Therapeutics brand resting mats are prominent on the same websites. Placed atop a grownup sofa, a TheraWarm Sofa Bolster and Furniture Protector ($59.99) captures and radiates a pet’s natural body heat. Conversely, the TheraCool Gel Cell Cooling Pad ($82.99) absorbs and dissipates excess body heat. Both have memory foam, which help ease joint and arthritic pain, it’s claimed.